Much like discussing the greatest rivalry in sports or the best musician of this generation, we find
ourselves making declarations that we can’t definitively solve, and it’s no different in the world
of sports cards. It’s only fair that the most iconic basketball player (sorry, LeBron James fans) has some of the most iconic basketball cards. So today, we’ll be running through the top 10 most iconic Michael Jordan cards ever spanning over his storied career taking on his contemporaries like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, and Charles Barkley.
But let’s get some particulars straight this list is more than how much they went for in the latest auction. So while value is important, we attempt to break down everything – the design, the rarity, even the tiny imperfections. what do we consider as the most iconic cards for the G.O.A.T.? This is completely opinion based so feel free to judge.
10. 1998-99 Upper Deck Game Jersey Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan card autographs are among the most sought after basketball cards by collectors. The first set of MJ autograph cards were released in 1996 with the release of the NBA/NHL series which featured the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, and many others.
However, the first on the list of our top 10 is from Upper Deck’s 1998-99 Game Jersey set featuring six different autographed versions all of which are numbered to 23. The clean card design with two Jordan images paired with his signature has also done well on the market. The last one to sell on the market was a PSA 9 Mint condition that was over $100,000.
9. 1996 Skybox Premium Rubies Parallel Michael Jordan #16
Skybox’s 1996 Michael Jordan Star Rubies is one of the toughest Michael Jordan basketball cards to come by. With the action shot of him floating through air and a slight cameo of his longtime Chicago Bulls teammate, Scottie Pippen. This card holds a lot nostalgia for those who got to witness these kind moments of Air Jordan.
This amazing parallel card is one of the toughest cards to find featuring the NBA legend but if you have any luck finding one, make sure you keep it safe!
8. 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan #101 X RC Rookie Card
What is the true rookie card of Michael Jordan? While the 1986 Fleer is often heralded as “the Michael Jordan rookie card” in actualitly the 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan #101 X Rookie Card was actually the earlier card, and even though it doesn’t get the same love as Fleer, it is still one of the most popular rookie cards basketball cards dawning the young GOAT.
The card design isn’t as flashy as some of the others on our list but it still depicts Jordan in his natural habitat, in the air above his opposition snagging a rebound. Like mentioned earlier the 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan “rookie card” is shown a lot of love but that doesn’t mean the value isn’t high for Star Co’s true rookie card. Recently a PSA 9 Mint condition sold for over $400,000. So it’s fair to say that the love is still there.
7. 1985 Nike Basketball #2 Michael Jordan Rookie Card RC
It’s ironic that in an effort to promote what is now one the most impactful and iconic sneakers of all time, Nike messed around and dropped one most iconic cards, when they released The 1985 Nike Basketball (PROMO) rookie card.
The card design features the young Jordan wearing the Air Jordan 1 in an action shot of him soaring as what would become his own logo. With so many nuances to the essence of Jordan and how we remember him today, this is one of the most valuable cards even if it was only for promotional purposes. According to PSA a Gem Mint version of the card is worth on average $17,000, and we’ve seen auction prices with some breaking over $50,000 threshold.
6. 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Michael Jordan #23 #/100
The duo parallels debuted in the 90s and re-released in the 2010s and it has been fan favorites of basketball card collectors since. The 1997-98 Michael Jordan PMG Red features a bright red background and this stunning effect on Jordan outstretched with the ball. is also very rare but not quite as desirable as the green version.
While the design is similar with the 97-98 Michael Jordan PMG Green, the significance is in the rarity with 10 copies. A rare color variation with a unique look and a great price tag. Not too long ago the highest graded one sold on auction for $350,100 on eBay. Which is a long ways from the hobby boxes of 1997-98 Metal Universe basketball originally retailed for $2.49 per pack.
5. 2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Autographed Patch Cards
2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Autographed Patch Cards is one of the most sought after autographed cards to be made after the career of Michael Jordan. Featuring patch
2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Autographed Patch Cards is one of the most sought after autographed cards to be made after the career of Michael Jordan. Featuring patch 2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Autographed Patch Cards are extremely rare and have been known to sell for thousands of dollars at auctions. This particular example is a PSA 8 NM+ grade and is signed by MJ himself. It is one of the more expensive cards on this list but it is definitely worth every penny. One of the last PSA 9 Mint condition 2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Autographed Patch Cards sold for over $90,000.
4. 2000-01 Ultimate Collection Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJG Autograph #/25
Michael Jordan’s 2000-01 Ultimate Collection Signatures Gold Autograph makes our top 10 list as one of the iconic basketball cards featuring Michael Jordan. This collection features other hall of famers like Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, and Julius Erving.
2000-01 Ultimate Collection Signatures Gold Michael Jordan #MJ G Autograph (#/25) is one of the most expensive cards ever produced by Upper Deck. Only 25 were made and each one is signed by Michael Jordan himself. As for the card’s design, the bottom features the on-card signature
3. 1986 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan Rookie Card #8
The 1986 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan “Rookie Card” is one of eleven in the subset alongside other greats like Celtics’ Larry Bird, Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon (at the time Akeem Olajuwon), and Hawks’ Dominique Wilkins.
The significance of the 1986 Fleer sticker may not be as high as 1986 Fleer, but its rarity alone makes it a must-have for any serious collectors. Value of a gem mint condition 1986 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan Rookie Card averages around $70,000 (according to PSA) with some breaking through to six figures in auctions.
2. 1999 Upper Deck Employee Game Jersey Michael Jordan #/275
Michael Jordan’s 1999 Upper Deck Employee Game Jersey stands at number 2 on our most iconic Michael Jordan basketball cards, and if there was a moment my bias would be exposed it would be now. Featuring one of the greatest moments in the history of basketball, The Shot, leading to the Chicago Bulls game 6 win over Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz for his sixth ring.
As the card captures the moment we also get these stunning design elements including the red hue going down the right side with “FAREWELL SHOT” imprinted in gold. That same red hue is used as a drop shadow around “Michael Jordan (23)” and “Chicago Bulls”, and of course the memorabilia card gives card owners a piece of the game Jersey.
As a basketball fan and die hard fan of Michael Jordan as a basketball player, all of these elements including the moment captured makes this card one of the greatest ever. While it may not reach the same heights as others on the auction, this card’s significance and artwork stands out as the heavy factor. PSA lists price for a gem mint condition for the 1999 Upper Deck Employee Game Jersey is $18,100.
1. 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan Rookie Card #57
While Fleer doesn’t predict the future that Jordan would become one of (if not) the most iconic
figures in sports, the card encapsulates everything he was to the game. The shot of him skying
over everyone as only His Airness could do; his tongue waving in the wind, what now is a
signature symbol for kids attempting to mimic and nostalgia to their lucky parents who were
there to witness in real-time.
Ultimately, the ’86 Fleer Michael Jordan “Rookie Card” continues to give to the culture and persist the test of time as the standard. According to the PSA, it is “the most recognizable basketball card and the most important modern card from any sport in the entire hobby.” Earlier this year, two of the highest graded versions of this card sold for $738,000 a piece at an auction. So, while many cards may come and make their claim, it’s fair to say that no other card could ever have the impact that Fleer could unlock when they released this nearly 40 years ago. All hail the GOAT!
As all lists tend to do, we know this may spark conversation, so while this is our take on who to chase, feel free to let us know which cards you believe would’ve been on it if you were making the list yourself. Is there an autograph card worthy of top 10 honors of one I may have chose?
Also, if you’re looking for a space to chat and expand your collection, hop on the Loupe app today with our trusted sellers to possibly collect Michael Jordan cards and other NBA stars of the past, present, and future like Magic Johnson, Lebron James, and Luka Doncic. Be sure to sign up too so you can get free Loupe credits to use on your first purchase!
Top Michael Jordan Basketball Cards Checklist
Below we provided a shortlist of our favorite Michael Jordan basketball cards that we love.
|Non-Autographed Michael Jordan Basketball Cards||Autographed Michael Jordan Basketball Cards|
|2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Michael Jordan #3 #/225||2005-06 Exquisite Michael Jordan Autographed Patch Cards|
|1998-99 Upper Deck Game Jersey Michael Jordan||2008-09 SkyBox Paraph Signatures #PSKD Michael Jordan|
|1998-99 SkyBox Molten Metal Fusion Michael Jordan #41 #/250||2007-08 UD Black Patch Material Autographs|
|1997-98 Ultra Star Power Supreme Michael Jordan #SPS1||2004-05 SP Signature Edition Six Star Signatures #6S2 Kobe/MJ/LeBron/KG/Magic/Melo /5|
|1998-99 SkyBox Thunder Noyz Boyz Michael Jordan #9||2001-02 Upper Deck MJ’s Back Jerseys Quad Autograph #CCQ1 Jordan UNC/Bulls/Bulls/Wiz /5|
|1997-98 Skybox E-X2001 Jambalaya Michael Jordan||2000-01 SP Game Floor Authentic Floor Autographs #MJA Michael Jordan SP /23|
|1998-99 Hoops Slam Bams Michael Jordan #1 #/100||1996 SPx Michael Jordan Autograph|
|1986 Prism Jewel Sticker RC Michael Jordan||1999-00 Upper Deck HoloGrFX Shoetime Autograph Michael Jordan #MJA #/23|